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"Green Energy" grants go unused


UNDATED (WSAU)   A federal stimulus program to make buildings more energy-efficient in three southern Wisconsin cities has largely gone unused. In 2009, the Obama stimulus provided $20-million to Madison, Milwaukee, and Racine to help homes-and-businesses lower their energy bills. But the Wisconsin State Journal says only about $3-million in grants have been awarded – and another one-million has been loaned for residential projects. That leaves just under $16-million available in the three-year program – and if it’s not spent in the next seven months, the funding goes back to Washington.

About 100 businesses and 500 homeowners have benefited from the energy funding. But in Madison alone, a green organization was hoping to retrofit 4,500 homes and about 110 businesses. But only 16-percent those homes and 28-percent of those businesses have been funded.

One problem is that the program was limited to low-interest loans at first – and people and businesses hesitated to add to their debt during the Great Recession. Brian Driscoll, who organizes the Wisconsin program, said more funds were granted when cities could start giving grants in late 2010.